Power of sport emerges as winner in Cindy Ouellet’s battles

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 13, 2021

Wheelchair basketball star preparing for fifth Paralympic Games


Cincy Ouellet is an open book when it comes to her journey to incomparable success on and off the playing field.

From her battle with cancer and facing bullies in high school to her social awareness and her most recent mental health struggles during the pandemic, Ouellet shows great courage to confront issues and share publicly to help others who may be having similar experiences. 

In each of her battles, sport has emerged as a major player in her personal victories.

Originally from Rivière-du-Loup, Que., a two-hour drive northeast of Quebec City, doctors discovered she had bone cancer at age 12 after she went to the hospital to treat a pelvis injury. Over the next two years she underwent 28 chemotherapy treatments and entered a new life with a disability. 

‘’I had a great family to support me through all that,” she said. ‘’We were really doing day-by-day so I wasn’t really thinking about sport again.”

Her first forays into her new life after cancer were difficult. She received no sympathy from students.

‘’Right after my chemo I went back to high school for the first time in two years,” said Ouellet, who has also built an impressive academic resume with a Masters in exercise physiology from the University of Alabama. She is also studying to obtain a PhD in Biomedical Engineering.

“People said I looked like a ghost, I was skinny, I got laughed at. I was using crutches at that time, and people were even kicking my crutches.”

An athlete prior to her illness, she was introduced to wheelchair basketball at age 15 which reignited her passion not only for sport but for life. 

“I had a chance to meet [Paralympic wheelchair racing champion] Dean Bergeron and he said, ‘Cindy, you know you can go to the Paralympics’. So my physio and Dean were like, let’s switch your life around and let’s do sport again.”

Through her now renowned determination, resilience, and commitment to excellence, she made the Canadian team for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing at age 16 and has been part of the national team ever since. 

She also competed for Canada in Para nordic skiing at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, proving her double-sport prowess. The Tokyo Paralympics would be Ouellet’s fifth Games.  

Her experience has brought to her to a key piece of advice she gives others. 

‘’You don’t always go out and ask, but I always tell the kids don’t be scared to ask for help. Whatever is happening in your life, you’re allowed to be vulnerable, you’re allowed to be that way.

“Don’t ever be scared to ask for anything.”

For more stories about Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympians, visit Paralympic.ca/powerofsport

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields